Wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy just one camera and have it tick all possible photographic boxes, and rise to all tasks?

Sadly, if such a perfect snapper exists, we’ve yet to find it, but it’s certainly possible to pick out a picture-taker that can fulfil a range of roles – and the Panasonic TZ90 is one such flexible friend.

This point-and-shoot camera, compact enough to be stuffed into a jacket pocket, comes with a 30x optical zoom lens for long reach and 4K video recording, plus a full range of manual controls. Has Panasonic built the ultimate versatile travel cam, or a jack of all trades and master of none? Time to find out if zoom equals boom.

Panasonic Lumix TZ90 design and build: Small, solid, shiny

Yes, the TZ90 has a big zoom, but through clever engineering it retracts almost all the way into the camera’s body when powered down. There’s a protrusion of around a centimetre, but Panasonic’s cleverly wrapped an adjustment dial around that, making good use of the space.

That means this camera can legitimately call itself “pocket-sized”, even though it’s only larger pockets that’ll accommodate it. If you like your jeans fitted and figure-hugging, don’t even try to trouser the TZ90. Slip it in a jacket pocket instead and avoid the unsightly bulge.

It’s no cheap, entry-level model, and the build quality reflects that. Metal and tough plastic covers the outside, and the feel is pleasantly weighty. Small rubber grips for your right fingers and thumb aid stability, and a lock on the battery/SD card chamber ensures it won’t pop open unbidden.

But it’s the bells and whistles that impress the most: not only does the TZ90 feature a crisp, bright 3in touchscreen that flips up 180 degrees to face forwards (a boon for selfie aficionados), there’s even room for an electronic viewfinder.

Given that a lot of bigger, pricier cameras – including brand new compact system cameras like the Canon EOS M6 – still don’t carry an EVF, Panasonic’s efforts here are welcome. The viewfinder itself is small, but clear and detailed enough to be useable in any situation – not only as a backup to the screen.

Tech Specs 
20.3MP 2/3in Live MOS
30x optical zoom (60x digital zoom) with f/3.3-6.4 aperture
ISO range
80 to 3200
Video modes
4K at up to 30fps, 720p/1080p at up to 60fps
RAW shooting
Wi-Fi, micro USB 2.0, micro HDMI
Battery life
380 shots
Stuff says... 

Panasonic Lumix TZ90 review

A tidy, versatile travel camera with lots of reach and decent image quality
Good Stuff 
Huge optical zoom for a compact
Useful 4K skills
180-degree tilting touchscreen
Room for a viewfinder
Bad Stuff 
A tad larger than some compacts
Not great in low light